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Athens News Agency: News in English, 07-02-07

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

CONTENTS

  • [01] PM Karamanlis: 'Adaptation to the conditions imposed by the new technologies'
  • [02] PASOK: The people will pay the cost
  • [03] FinMin on business mission to India
  • [04] Free cervical cancer vaccine for 12-13 yr/old girls

  • [01] PM Karamanlis: 'Adaptation to the conditions imposed by the new technologies'

    Prime minister Costas Karamanlis will meet consecutively on Wednesday with his ruling New Democracy party's (ND) Central Committee secretary Lefteris Zagoritis and Development minister Dimitris Sioufas.

    Addressing an event organised by the National Telecommunications and Post Offices Committee (EETT) marking the designation of 2007 as the European Broadband Year, Karamanlis stressed the need for change and dynamic adaptation to the conditions imposed by new technologies in the communications sector.

    The target, he said, was to create new opportunities for training, entrepreneurship, and reinforcing the quality of democracy in the new era. The premier further outlined the measures introduced by the relevant ministries to boost broadband penetration in Greece.

    EETT event

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis addressed an event organised on Tuesday by the National Telecommunications and Post Offices Committee (EETT), on the occasion of 2007 being proclaimed European Broadband Year, stressing the need for change and dynamic adjustment to conditions imposed by new technologies in the communications sector.

    "The societies that do not dare to utilise possibilities provided by the present to the fullest possible degree, the societies that do not dare to claim a better future dynamically are condemned to the swamp of stagnation and underdevelopment," the prime minister said, adding that the digital rift must close and all citizens must be given the possibility of access to the digital era.

    Karamanlis pointed out that the target is to create new opportunities for education, entrepreneurship and the strengthening of the quality of democracy in the new era.

    He also referred to measures taken by relevant ministries to boost European broadband penetration. Karamanlis noted that, despite whatever difficulties, lost ground will be covered and the wager for the future shall be won.

    Addressing the event, Transport and Communications Minister Mihalis Liapis said that the development of European broadband infrastructures and services constitutes a national mandate for the country and the duty of the government, since not only is economic activity upgraded through them but, primarily, the citizen's quality of life.

    [02] PASOK: The people will pay the cost

    Main opposition PASOK party finance and economy sector chief Vasso Papandreou on Tuesday criticised statements by Finance and Economy Minister George Alogoskoufis, on the recent revision of Greece's GDP and on tax evasion, saying that "a few days ago, the government announced two billion euros for combatting poverty over the next five years, meaning 400 million a year. In 2007, we shall be called on to pay 2.5 billion euros retrogressively and for an increased contribution, plus 1.5 billion that we are losing from the Cohesion Fund, and from now on we shall be paying 500 million euros a year as a greater contribution to the European Union's Funds."

    Papandreou further said that "we became a laughing stock internationally, once again, with the trick of revising GDP, that was characterised by the CNN as one of the greatest blunders in the world. This trick has a great cost that the Greek citizens will be called on to pay."

    Also referring to the issue of tax evasion, Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos) party Political Bureau member and economic and social policy chief Panayiotis Lafazanis said that "the government's election announcements made by Mr. George Alogoskoufis on cracking down on tax evasion are characterised by profound hypocrisy, since the government, all these years, has been strengthening the tax immunity of big capital with its policy, the tax raid on working classes and on all who pay their taxes and with beneficial arrangements for the big debtors of the state, while making the tax system all the more intricate and, primarily, more unfair."

    Meanwhile, PASOK leader George Papandreou was due to be released Wednesday from the Attiko hospital, where he was rushed Tuesday night due to a high fever.

    Papandreou was admitted to hospital due to the persistance of his fever, which appeared on Sunday during the debate in Parliament on PASOK's motion of no-confidence against the government, which was defeated in the 300-member House..

    Due to a previous case, (pneumonia), it was deemed necessary for him to be hospitalised in order for the necessary tests to be conducted.

    The fever prevented the PASOK leader from attending an event organised on Tuesday by the National Telecommunications and Post Offices Committee (EETT), marking the designation of 2007 as European Broadband Year.

    [03] FinMin on business mission to India

    Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis departs on Wednesday for New Delhi, at the head of a business delegation.

    He will meet on Thursdayy with India's Finance Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram and Foreign Minister Anand Sharma. On Friday, Alogoskoufis will meet with India's Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath and Deputy Industry Minister Ashwani Kumar.

    The aim of the business mission is to broaden the growth potential of commercial relations between Greece and India.

    During the stay, until Sunday, of the business mission in New Delhi, a memorandum of cooperation will be signed between representatives of the Federation of Greek Industries and representatives of India's corresponding federation.

    Inner Cabinet meeting

    Prime minister Costas Karamanlis on Tuesday chaired a meeting of the Inner Cabinet on issues falling under the competence of the national economy and finance ministry.

    National economy and finance minister George Alogoskoufis told reporters after the meeting that he briefed the Inner Cabinet on the course of the 2006 state budget which, he said, had at its close fallen inside the forecasts regarding tax revenues as well.

    He stressed that the New Democracy government's policy on taxation, which was accompanied by a reduction of the taxation rates, had "a significant axis, which is the confrontation of tax-evasion".

    Alogoskoufis added that "with the cross-checking and the better audits, and with the incentives we gave, we had a very good course in tax revenues in 2006 as well as in the first month of 2007".

    However, he stressed, "tax evasion is a matter of social justice, because the tax revenues, to a large degree, finance all the priorities of the social state, Education, Health, etc.".

    The minister also underlined that efforts would no focus on changing the attitude of and convincing all the Greeks that they must ask for receipts, and at the same time castigate the attitude of the tax-evaders, adding that "tax evasion is considered in our country, in a way, as 'cleverness', while in reality it is an anti-social attitude".

    Questioned on a negative comment by CNN regarding the revision of the Greek GDP (based on new accounting methods), Alogoskoufis said that "some people take inconsequential press articles and attempt to create domestic issues".

    "We have a long history of negative press articles on Greece in many foreign media, for various expediencies. What is important is that we are doing the right thing. The specific matter referred to by CNN is also a matter of tax evasion. Just as we ask of everyone to declare their incomes, so must a country that respects itself declare its revenues correctly, know what its GDP is, even though this entails some obligations in the framework of its international participation," Alogoskoufis explained.

    Asked whether the ministry had outstanding matters that needed to be closed in view of elections, Alogoskoufis said that "the ministry's programme is progressing normally and being materialised in accordance with the planning".

    [04] Free cervical cancer vaccine for 12-13 yr/old girls

    About 55,000 girls 12-13 years of age will be able to receive the new cervical cancer vaccine free of charge, according to an announcement by Health Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos on Tuesday.

    The cost of the vaccine will be shouldered by social security funds, while as the health minister explained, no uninsured immigrant or indigent person will be left outside the arrangement, since there shall be a provision for free vaccines for these categories as well.

    The National Vaccine Committee will be examing data in the days to come and will be announcing the details, the minister said.

    Experts attending Tuesday's press conference, said that even women of a greater age can have the vaccine, but at their own cost, although stressing that if they have been infected by HPV viruses it will have a reduced effect.

    It has been estimated that at least 160,000 vaccines will be required every year, while the health ministry has started a struggle to renegotiate its sale price in Greece.

    Avramopoulos also spoke of tough arrangements to restrict smoking and alcohol, while, referring to bird flu, he said that the ministry is vigilant since the issue is not over.

    Main opposition PASOK party officials Christos Protopapas and Maria Damanaki said that the vaccine against womb cancer must be provided for all young women between 12-26 years of age.

    "Prevention cannot have quotas. It must be universal. Nor is it possible for young women over 13 to be abandoned who, indeed, cannot afford to pay for the expensive vaccine," Protopapas said.

    Damanaki said on her part "will social security funds ask for participation from the insured and how much. This is a question over which the government has remained silent so far."


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